Traditional Filipino Games Series #01: Luksong Tinik


Before the internet age and electronic games, there were traditional Filipino activities and home-made toys. Our games involved socialization and team building.

We never knew the internet games you have today. Neither did we know Mario Brothers, Game Boy, nor Tetris. What we had instead were local household materials or whatever there was in our surroundings to play with. We made toys from anything. And we had a circle of friends – from the neighborhood – with whom we made those toys.

We were not used to playing alone in our bedroom or in any corner of our home. We would go outside to play with the neighborhood kids. Our playground? A neighbor’s backyard, any family’s porch, on the road, by the beach, at the farm, or any open space in the neighborhood.

We did not have mobile phones to call our friends from. Instead, we would walk to their respective houses and personally tell them when it’s play time. It was easy to assemble friends then. And once we were gathered together, we would decide which game to play.

Sometimes, we played by teams. Other times, we played as one group. And at times we played individually against another. But, at all times, our games involved team building and friendship. We didn’t mind our clothes getting soiled, or drenching in sweat. Nor we were afraid of getting sick from the germs on the ground.

There were times also, especially when we’re tired of the active and rough games, that we would just sit down and talk about anything – just anything we could imagine! That was our definition of chat.

To show you how we were, let me introduce our favorite games. I make this Traditional Filipino Games series, first, to reminisce my own childhood, and second, to demonstrate to you how we build friendships during our time – before the age of the internet! Let me start with this one.

traditional Filipino games

Traditional Filipino Games Series #01
Luksong Tinik

Luksong Tinik, “jumping over thorns” in English, is a group game of two teams. Each team, composed of an equal number of players, chooses a nanay (mother), while the rest of the teammates are called anak (children). The objective of the game is for all players to be able to jump over the height of the hands placed one on top of the other without touching them. The mothers are expected to be high jumpers. The first to jump is decided by the mothers, who would toss a slipper. The mother whose team wins the toss will have the first jump. The other team serves as the tayâ (on base) and forms the tinik (thorns) with their feet and hands.

Two players on the base sit facing each other, putting a foot forward and touching the other player’s foot. Then, each member of the other team starts jumping over the feet. When all members have jumped over the feet, the players on the base add a hand, with palm and fingers open, above their feet, then another, and so on until all the base players have piled their hands over.

When all the jumpers have successfully jumped over the hands without hitting the hands of the base players with any part of their body, or with their clothing, the game is repeated with the jumpers leaping over again. If the mother’s children hit the hands of the base players, it’s considered a “fault” (an error), and the mother has to jump for the erring child. But if the mother fails, it’s time for the base players to take the jump.

Luksong Tinik originated in Cabanatuan City, in the province of Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

In Myanmar, there’s also a game similar to Luksong Tinik, which they call Hpan Khone. This game is played mostly by girls, although sometimes boys would join in.

Hpan Khone, Myanmar’s version of Luksong Tinik

Other Games in the Series
Bahay-Bahayan
Luksong Baka
Kadang-kadang
Tumbang Preso

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